The United National Movement’s Chair, Levan Khabeishvili, has said that the party’s former leader, Nika Melia, is ‘not a member’ of the party anymore.
In an interview with Formula on Sunday, Khabeishvili appeared to dodge questions about Melia’s current status within the party.
Speculation about whether Melia was still a member of the UNM peaked after he and several key supporters within the party refused to sign a ‘manifesto of unity’ last week.
Khabeishvili and other party leaders warned that failure to endorse the new document would result in an automatic withdrawal from the UNM.
[Read more on OC Media: Internal strife overshadows the UNM’s ‘manifesto of unity’]
When asked about whether Melia was dismissed from the party during the Formula interview, Khabeishvili said that he would only answer the question if he received an official letter from journalists.
In response, journalist Vakho Sanaia wrote the question about Melia’s status on a piece of paper and handed it over to Khabeishvili.
Khabeishvili wrote his answer down on the piece of paper and handed it back. His answer read that Melia ‘was not’ a member of the UNM and ‘does not represent the party’.
The following day, the UNM issued a statement parroting what Khabeishvili had said in the Formula interview.
‘Despite our months-long efforts to have the former chair return to the party, Nika Melia does not share the principles set forth in the manifesto, continues the campaign to damage the party, and publicly declares that he is “not in the [United] National Movement” ’, continued the statement.
‘Nika Melia does not represent the party, this issue is closed, and the party is not going to make additional comments on this issue.’
Neither the UNM nor Melia responded to requests for comment.